Generally, I hate shopping, and I especially hate shopping with kids in tow. Yet shopping with my kids at my small not-too-crowded farmer’s market is always a positive experience. I don’t have to put them in a cart (my market is small enough that I let my 3 and 5-year-old wander a bit as long as they stay where I can see them). There are no Hot Wheels cars or candy bars to trigger whining, power struggles, and tantrums. You also don’t have to explain why you are unwilling to buy the ten dollar melon in February. There are no magazines with scantily clad women or weeping socialites on the covers at the checkout. And I love for them to see all that fresh produce and get to know the farmers that grow it. Here are some tips for enjoying the farmers market with your kids.
Take young children to a small farmers market at the least crowded time. Some farmers markets are probably too large and too crowded to enjoy visiting with small children. My market only has about 20 vendors. I let my 3-year-old and 5-year-old wander a bit because they are almost always in view and never too far away. You could take a stroller or hold hands the entire time, but it’s fun for the kids to wander a bit if the market is small enough. If there are multiple markets in your area, visit several to find the smaller markets where you would feel comfortable taking your small children, even if you most often shop at the larger markets.
Name the different fruits and vegetables. If you don’t know what something is, ask the farmer about it and try a sample. You can help give your kids a sense of seasonality (and delayed gratification) by discussing what is no longer available, what is in season now, and what will be coming into season next.
Enjoy the free samples. They are healthy and delicious and might get your kids interested in new foods.
Let your children help with the purchases. Older children can be given a little money or encouraged to bring their own money to spend on a few things of their choosing. Younger children can help select carrots, potatoes, and other non-delicate foods from the stand and put them in your bag.
Encourage your children to thank the farmers. I value the opportunity the farmers market gives our family to have a direct relationship with the producers of our food.
Are you a farmers market shopper? What are your tips for getting the most out of the farmers market?